Bury emerged in the Industrial Revolution as a mill town manufacturing textiles. Historically part of Lancashire, to this day, some Bury folk prefer to think of themselves as Lancastrians rather than part of Greater Manchester.
Bury town centre is best known for its ‘world famous’ traditional open-air market and its black pudding stalls. It was also once famous for its tripe, although this has declined in popularity in recent years, which is probably for the best.
Bury is becoming increasingly popular with visitors. People flock from all over the country to wander around the traditional markets, admire the surrounding countryside and enjoy the growing number of restaurants and bars.
The views from the top of the Peel Tower are something else. It’s definitely worth the 148 step climb to be rewarded with some incredible views over Ramsbottom and beyond. On a clear day, it’s even possible to see as far as Manchester, Cheshire and North Wales.
Bury was the home town of Sir Robert Peel, former prime minister and founder of the Metropolitan Police and Conservative Party. There’s a monument to Peel outside the parish church, and Peel Tower stands on the hills overlooking the borough.
Other famous sons and daughters of Bury include Elbow, actors Antony Cotton, Gemma Atkinson and Jennie McAlpine, fashion designer Henry Holland, cycling twins Adam and Simon Yates, footballer Kieran Trippier and the Nevilles.
Victoria Wood went to Bury Grammar School. A statue of the celebrated comedian and writer was unveiled earlier this year opposite Bury’s central library and has become a popular tourist attraction.
Bury FC play at Gigg Lane, one of the oldest professional football stadiums in the world, who were promoted to the third tier of the EFL last season. The first Football League match played on 8 September 1894 when Bury beat Manchester City 4–2, how times change.
Bury fact: the name Bury comes from the Old English word Buri, meaning castle, stronghold or fort. Before the River Irwell was diverted to its present course, it flowed through the foot of the rock, from which The Rock shopping centre takes its name.
Transport to and from Bury
Bury is excellently connected, boasting motorway links to the M66 and M60, giving easy access to the M62, M65 & M61, making Bury the ideal commuter hub.
It’s easy to travel into Manchester. From Bury Interchange in the centre of the town, you can catch a tram which takes around 23 minutes or the 135 bus which takes a more leisurely 45 minutes.
If you prefer the comfort of your own wheels, the 9.4-mile drive into Manchester should take less than 30 minutes on a good day but considerably longer during rush hour.
Shopping in Bury
There’s plenty of shopping to be had in Bury.
In 2010 a £350 million shopping centre opened up around The Rock with a multi-screen cinema and bowling alley along with all your usual big-name department stores such as M&S, Boots, and Topshop.
Bury is also home to the Millgate shopping centre with an array of outlet shops, cafes and pop-up stalls.
Did we mention the world-famous Bury Market? People come from all over Greater Manchester and beyond on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, to visit the open-air market with hundreds of stalls selling everything under the sun.
You can’t head to Bury Market and not try the famous black pudding. Bury is so well known for its black pudding that it is not uncommon to see it described as Bury Black Pudding on menus across the UK – so much so that The Bury Black Pudding Co provides black pudding to big-name retailers such as Harrods.
There is also a large meat and fish hall, which is pretty pongy to walk through but has lots of great fresh produce on offer.
The best bars and restaurants in Bury
There are plenty of restaurants and bars popping up in and around Bury. It’s a great place for a night out with so many bars dotted across the city centre within walking distance of each other.
Crowded House is a walk-in restaurant with no booking required offering ‘world fusion’ food with a strong focus on sharing platters and grazing plates. So if you’re looking for freshly cooked food made to a very high standard, Crowded House is definitely worth a visit.
If you love the arcade games of the 80s, Arcade Club is right up your street. Jam-packed with retro games such as Pac-Man and Super Mario, this cheap drink destination is gamer heaven. But, of course, you can also grab yourself a bite to eat—great value for money.
Propaganda is home to American-inspired food with some unique twists and some marvellous milkshakes. Expect a fine range of tasty burgers to spicy hot wings – basically a mouthwatering menu with something for all foodies to enjoy. A top spot for drinkers, too, with a modern bar that serves up all the latest cocktails.
The Clarence is a pub, restaurant, and brewery located in a beautifully restored Victorian building spread over four floors in Bury town centre. The award-winning restaurant on the first floor is led by chef Liam Rutherford who showcases the very best of Lancashire and British produce, delivering both pub staples and inventively refined dishes.
Down in the basement is Silver Street Brewery, run by head brewer Craig Adams, crafting celebrated ales you can enjoy in the pub above.
Bloom Coffee Co is a beautifully designed independent coffee house that serves a delicious brunch and a menu inspired by Australian cafe food. Boasting a licensed bar serving beer and wine, this is a go-to destination for people looking for a nice chilled catch-up over a coffee.
Parks and recreation in Bury
Located just a mile outside Bury town centre, Burrs Country Park is a beautiful park that’s great for families and dog walkers. The East Lancashire Railway runs along the edge of the park, and the River Irwell meanders through it, allowing thrill-seekers to participate in kayaking, raft building and climbing, all available at the Burrs Activity Centre.
Take a trip on the East Lancashire Railway steam train to Ramsbottom or Rawtenstall any weekend and Bank Holiday throughout the year (apart from Christmas Day), and on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from May to September. Dining with Distinction offers many events from a festive train ride, murder mystery evenings, afternoon tea or just a posh dinner on a train.
Burrs is also home to some of the most impressive works on the Irwell Sculpture Trail, which runs from Salford to the West Pennine Moors, offering keen ramblers a very long walk indeed.
The Met is an award-winning arts venue that has hosted such big names as Peter Kay, Jason Manford and Steve Coogan. There’s always something worth a watch with tickets very reasonably priced.
Schools in Bury
Bury schools are noted for their high standards and are a huge draw to the area for families with children. Bury Grammar School, Tottington High and Derby High School are just a few of the outstanding schools in the local area.
Affordability in Bury
Bury is popular with young families and commuters alike, mainly because of reasonably priced family-sized homes and good transport links.
Many people flock to the area to enjoy all the perks of city living on the edge of the open countryside.
Being just that little bit further from Manchester definitely gives you more for your money. The average 3-bed semi-detached in Bury is around £180,000 – you would struggle to find a 1 bed flat in the Northern Quarter for that – so your humble pound will definitely stretch much further.
The most in-demand after areas of Bury are the Greenmount and Holcombe Brook areas, where property sells for significantly more than anywhere else and larger individually designed homes can sell for in excess of £1m.
This is the Place is the name of a poem by Tony Walsh commissioned by Forever Manchester, the one and only charity that raises money to fund and support community activity across Greater Manchester. And they can’t do it without your help. So donate what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a hugely rewarding experience. There’s a unique sense of satisfaction in knowing that you are making a real difference in the lives of others, especially to those close to home.
Photos by local photographer Matt Webb